.oO Prologue Oo.
The mansion was pretty small. In Vargaz’ opinion it wasn’t even worth calling it a mansion. It only had twenty rooms, for crying out loud! The fields surrounding it were run down and one could only imagine their former glory. It was a real shame how K’troll, the old fart, had let everything go down the drain over here.
‘How did he manage to get by for so long, anyway?’ Vargaz thought, while throwing his used smoke down on the patio and stomping with the heel of his expensive boot on it. He only had to look at Banta, before the tall, burly man shoved off from the wall he had been leaning on and followed his boss inside the rundown building.
Inside was a flurry of activity – the last of the servants were bundling everything up, while a few wealthy aliens pointed at pieces of art they’d like to purchase and that weren’t already sold to someone.
After K’troll’s death it hadn’t taken long for the vultures to settle in and rip everything apart. He may have been batshit crazy at the end, but he still had some valuable items that were sought after from the more cultivated of collectors and Vargaz had made sure to immediately leave his own home turf in the capable hands of his servants in order to fly over to this corner of the galaxy and rifle through everything before the others caught on to it.
Banta was his usual, silent self; hovering behind him and looking intimidating and tall – that’s what he did best and that’s what he was there for. Vargaz valued the Triptochid greatly; he was a sadistic bastard and it showed in the three shifty eyes that seemed to be everywhere at once, surreptitiously watching their surroundings and keeping unwanted attention effectively at bay. Only a few of his servants back home had dared to try and play with the burly man and his bulging muscles – they were the ones that were either working down in the mines or sneaking through the shadows in the corners of his villa; not daring to get caught in the penetrating, evil glare of the three eyes, after Banta had been finished with them.
“Hey. Are you finished already?” Vargaz asked the auctioneer that came hurrying down the broad central stairs. The little, redskinned man obviously wanted to pretend he hadn’t heard Vargaz, but Banta made sure they were noticed; for such a huge individual he was deceptively fast – his arm shot out and caught the hurrying man by the scruff, lifting him with practised ease.
The man’s chubby arms raised with a choked squeal and he tried loosening his collar that was digging in his fleshy neck, while his round eyes were practically bulging out of his skull.
“M-Mr. Vargaz...! I didn’t – I hadn’t... I ... could you please tell your... ah... could you tell this gentleman to...” The already red skin of his face got even redder, with a distinctly unhealthy shade of blue and his speech devolved into gurgling noises, while his feet were kicking in the air. Vargaz grunted and nudged Banta with his elbow.
“Let him down,” he growled. The Triptochid simply opened his fist and let the auctioneer fall down upon his plump behind. The little man hurried to get on his feet, while he gasped for air and rubbed his neck.
“Th... thank you. Can I... uh... help you, Mr. Vargaz?” he asked nervously, rubbing his hands at the tuxedo he was wearing.
“I kindly wanted to know, when I can expect to get the items I purchased. I’m a busy man, you know.”
“Yes. Yes of course. They should be almost ready, Sir. We will load them immediately into your shuttlecraft. Without charge, of course. Ah... I will... see to it that it is immediately...” The man made a few steps backwards, obviously trying to get away from the two men as fast as possible. Vargaz watched him with one raised eyebrow, slowly crossing his arms in front of his chest. He wanted to shoo the auctioneer away and get rid of the stuttering fool, when Banta’s gravelly voice sounded in his ear from behind: “Hey, Boss. Over there.”
A large fist was raised and pointed towards a shadowy corner of the entrance hall. Vargaz needed to squint – he did not possess the three excellent eyes of a Triptochid – but eventually he made out a wooden crate that stood partly concealed under the broad staircase.
“What’s in there?” he asked the auctioneer who looked even more uncomfortable now.
“It’s already been purchased, Sir.”
“I didn’t ask that, now, did I? What’s in there?” Vargaz said and strode towards the corner and the crate. Banta shoved the little man unceremoniously forward, when he followed his boss and the auctioneer heaved a long suffering sigh after a few moments, obviously resigning himself to his fate.
He hurried after Vargaz and cleared his throat.
“As I said, they have already been purchased by Mr. Tikata and his servant will be here soon in order to take them to their new home...”
Vargaz threw a quick look over his shoulder; an unholy gleam was entering his dark eyes and he motioned for Banta to take care of the crate.
“Tikata, you say? I want it. Whatever it is.”
“I knew you would... wait, what?” The auctioneer gaped at him and started hectically searching for something in his tuxedo, ultimately pulling a handkerchief out with which he wiped at the sweat on his forehead.
Banta had seized the crate that was approximately five feet wide and six feet tall and pulled it out from its hiding place in the darkness under the stairs.
“How much has he promised you?” Vargaz asked, stepping closer towards the crate, while Banta tried prying the lid off from the wooden, featureless box.
The auctioneer sighed and let his shoulders sag.
“One thousand credits each.”
Vargaz raised his eyebrows in the man’s direction and stepped closer, when Banta finally managed to open the crate. They both leaned over the rim and while Banta simply grunted in surprise, Vargaz nearly flinched backwards in the face of the unexpected picture that greeted him.
Out of the darkness of the crate one pair of luminous, golden eyes stared blinking up into the light. Vargaz thought for one wild second that he was looking at a cat, until he realized that the face surrounding the blinking eyes was distinctly hairless.
“What the...” murmured the man and shoved the lid of the box further away. “Help me, you oaf,” Vargaz hissed at Banta, who shot him a dirty look with all three eyes, before he used his considerable bulk to shove the crate further into the light, so his boss would be able to see what was inside.
Silence settled over the three men in the corner of the entrance hall, while around them the other customers were still haggling for the art pieces.
Now that the artificial light was shining inside the dark recesses of the box, Vargaz could see that there was not only one pair of eyes, but two. The other one, however, was of a dark, brown colour and therefore had not the luminescence of the golden ones that had been shining like flashlights.
“A human and a Vulcan?” Vargaz finally said, after he had taken in pointed ears and a mop of untidy, blonde hair on the two occupants of the box.
They were cowering together, not even batting an eyelash now, that they had accustomed themselves to the brightness of the light after the darkness of the wooden box. One could not see much; they were jammed together and showed no inclination of moving away from one another. The human had a thick piece of cloth tied around his head and preventing him from speaking, while the Vulcan had a steel collar around his slender neck.
“Yes. They were K’troll’s special servants. And they are already purchased. As I have said,” the auctioneer said, slowly getting angry with these customers. Vargaz raised his eyebrows and stepped back from the crate, turning towards the little, chubby man and rubbing his chin.
“Tikata gives you one thousand credits each, you said? I give you two thousand only for the human,” he mused after a while. The auctioneer straightened his spine and shook his head.
“That is not possible.”
“And why ever not?” Vargaz asked, mildly amused that the little man would dare and try to refuse him the purchase.
“They are only sold together. They are not to be separated,” the auctioneer said, raising his chin and clearing his throat, after he got a glimpse of the dangerous light in Vargaz’ eyes. “...sir,” he whispered and drew his shoulders up to his ears.
“Why are they only sold together? I have no need for a Vulcan. Only trouble with their strength.”
The auctioneer rubbed his hands slightly together and shifted his weight from one foot to the other. He looked as if he wanted to be far, far away right now.
“I have been assured that they have been together these past five years and that you will have far more trouble with the human, if you separate him from the Vulcan. The Vulcan is docile as long as the human is around; additionally he is perpetually restrained.”
The auctioneer walked forward and had to stretch in order to reach inside the box and seize the black hair of the Vulcan and draw his head back.
Vargaz stepped closer again and peered inside. Golden eyes were narrowing and watching mistrustful what the two men were doing to the Vulcan, who placidly let his head fall backwards in order to let them gaze upon the steel collar he was wearing.
It had a ring of metal in its front; threaded through the ring was a chain that ended in – the Vulcan raised his arms obligingly – metal cuffs around his wrists.
“The chain can be elongated or shortened. Furthermore there is a substance one could use in order to render him helpless,” the auctioneer said and let go of the Vulcan. Vargaz grunted slightly and stepped back again, nodding towards Banta, who raised the lid of the crate and placed it back in its place.
“But as I said; as long as they are together the Vulcan is pretty peaceful. Its the human one should be wary off.”
Vargaz was silent for a moment and scratched at his cheek with the nail of his thumb.
“But Tikata wants them, eh?” he said again. Vargaz hated Tikata. That pompous idiot on the other side of his planet, that was trying to outsmart him in every business.
He had no idea why that bastard was interested in a pair of rebellious servants, but the fact alone that he was interested in them meant for Vargaz, that he needed to have those two for himself.
The auctioneer started wringing his hands and whined, “But Sir! They already have been purchased. It is not possible for you to –“
“I pay you four thousand credits for the pair.”
The little, red skinned man nearly choked on his own tongue.
“Four... four thousand, sir?” the auctioneer whispered. Vargaz grinned lazily, when he saw the greedy glint in the little man’s eyes and motioned behind his back for Banta to start securing the box.